What Does "Masterpiece" Mean Today?

Is a Harley Davidson motorcycle a masterpiece? In an effort to buoy the mid-range art market, auction houses are expanding the definition, associating the term with luxury. 

What's the Latest Development?


In an attempt to buoy the mid-range art market, the world's largest auction houses are changing what is meant by "a masterpiece." A new art fair in London is prepared to auction a Cartier necklace and custom-built Harley Davidson motorcycle alongside a painting of St. Augustine attributed to Caravaggio, all under the title of "masterpieces." "Masterpieces have always been important, but now we market them more aggressively," says Henry Wyndham, chairman of Sotheby's Europe. "Moreover, the public is better educated today, aiming for the best of the best."

What's the Big Idea?

The new definition of masterpiece, which is growing in dominance across the world of art collection, focuses on outstanding individual examples across categories rather than must-haves within a single category. "For critics, it aligns art directly with luxury, suggesting that what ultimately unites these objects is their availability only to the very wealthy." While this may evoke the contemporary style of collecting, there is a danger that it could become "an exercise in branding, with the word 'masterpiece' used to identify a highly saleable work rather than a work of outstanding quality."

Photo credit: Shutterstock.com

How to make a black hole

Here's the science of black holes, from supermassive monsters to ones the size of ping-pong balls.

Videos
  • There's more than one way to make a black hole, says NASA's Michelle Thaller. They're not always formed from dead stars. For example, there are teeny tiny black holes all around us, the result of high-energy cosmic rays slamming into our atmosphere with enough force to cram matter together so densely that no light can escape.
  • CERN is trying to create artificial black holes right now, but don't worry, it's not dangerous. Scientists there are attempting to smash two particles together with such intensity that it creates a black hole that would live for just a millionth of a second.
  • Thaller uses a brilliant analogy involving a rubber sheet, a marble, and an elephant to explain why different black holes have varying densities. Watch and learn!
  • Bonus fact: If the Earth became a black hole, it would be crushed to the size of a ping-pong ball.

Russian reporters discover 101 'tortured' whales jammed in offshore pens

Protected animals are feared to be headed for the black market.

(VL.ru)
Politics & Current Affairs
  • Russian news network discovers 101 black-market whales.
  • Orcas and belugas are seen crammed into tiny pens.
  • Marine parks continue to create a high-price demand for illegal captures.
Keep reading Show less

China’s artificial sun reaches fusion temperature: 100 million degrees

In a breakthrough for nuclear fusion research, scientists at China's Experimental Advanced Superconducting Tokamak (EAST) reactor have produced temperatures necessary for nuclear fusion on Earth.

Credit: EAST Team
Surprising Science
  • The EAST reactor was able to heat hydrogen to temperatures exceeding 100 million degrees Celsius.
  • Nuclear fusion could someday provide the planet with a virtually limitless supply of clean energy.
  • Still, scientists have many other obstacles to pass before fusion technology becomes a viable energy source.
Keep reading Show less